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#908649 - 04/08/03 09:14 PM Opinion on an old Weber grand  
Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 1
kbike Offline
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kbike  Offline
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Posts: 1
Doylestown, PA
Wondering if anyone would offer an opinion on the restorable value in a Weber grand from the early 1900's , (serial #58128, Weber, NY)? It's being offered to me for $2000 - told it's a beautiful piece, mahogony, but perhaps not the greatest instrument? Want to know if it's even worth looking at and considering for that amount???
thanks! -

#908650 - 04/08/03 09:33 PM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 3,291
Steve Miller Offline
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Steve Miller  Offline
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Joined: May 2001
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Yorba Linda, CA
Quote
Originally posted by kbike:
Wondering if anyone would offer an opinion on the restorable value in a Weber grand from the early 1900's , (serial #58128, Weber, NY)? It's being offered to me for $2000 - told it's a beautiful piece, mahogony, but perhaps not the greatest instrument? Want to know if it's even worth looking at and considering for that amount???
thanks! -
Going by the serial number, that piano was built in 1905 - just two years after Aeolian bought the marque. I don't know that this is particularly significant as Weber makes the David Burton list of significant Golden Age pianos through 1932.

How big is this piano? $2 large sounds pretty steep to me - unless the piano is a really big grand or has had a whole lot of work done to it over the years.


Defender of the Landfill Piano
#908651 - 04/08/03 10:47 PM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
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Jolly Offline
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Jolly  Offline
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Louisiana
If....

Huge word, isn't it?

A piece of my opinion: Condition is everything, and knowing what you have, and where you want to go, is paramount.

There are two ways to go with this piano, IMO:

1. Nibble at it. If the piano is in decent enough shape to play, you can nibble at a restoration, or a rebuild. Perhaps an action rebuild. Or a refinish job. Or a soundboard replacement(or not).

Just taking your time, and putting money into the piano as you can. Sometimes you wind up with a very nice piano.

2. Buy it with the intention of a total rebuild. Take out the wallet, and count out 15K. That should buy a complete rebuild from a good shop.

I'm not enough of a gambler to buy a piano to rebuild, as I would be hesitant about the outcome.

Maybe someone like JohnC, or David Burton, people who have picked out pianos with the intention of rebuilding them could help with that question.


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#908652 - 04/09/03 12:52 AM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
Joined: Aug 2002
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RMAC Offline
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RMAC  Offline
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A Weber from that era is certainly worth rebuilding consideration. The problem is that you have to put a lot of money into it, wait many months for the work to be done, and hope that you like it.

See how much it needs and what it costs, (make sure you have at least two qualified rebuilders look at it). Check out examples of their work and also see what is available that has already been restored for the same cost as the restoration on top of the $2,000.

I would say that you can choose from stuff that is already restored and wait till you find one that you like rather than take the chance on this one.

#908653 - 04/16/03 11:49 PM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
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David Burton Offline
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David Burton  Offline
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Coxsackie, New York
All right, I've enough inspirations to make a post out of it, so here goes.

The first idea I want to address and put to rest is the notion that when the big American piano combines got going, quality went out the window, down the drain, or chose your own idiomatic expression. It didn't. In fact in many ways the early products of these combines were among the best pianos ever produced in America. The golden age ends with the crash of 1929 and its aftermath. It began as early as 1875 for some makers, including Steinway, and didn't get going until 1885 or so for most others. (It took a while for Chickering to give up straight scaling, for instance. While many of these pianos can actually be quite good, their best pianos were made when they adopted overstringing around 1885.)

The first big American combine was Aeolian, Weber, Pianola, later just Aeolian piano company, put together in 1903. They were a vast truly international company with factories in Europe and Australia as well as America. They were very interested in anything electro-mechanical as they seemed to think this was the direction music making and entertainment would take. It did for a while until the radio arrived in the 1920's. The age of the player continued for several decades more, but their peak coincided with the outbreak of World War I. Aeolian had a few core fine piano makes among them and allowed their factories and workmen, many who had put together these pianos for the original proprietors, to continue in operation.

Chief among them was Weber & Co., the company begun by Albert Weber in New York with the intention of unseating Steinway. His pianos were very good, especially the large ones, but his health was not. It was common for a good many of the great men in the piano business to let their ambition run ahead of their health and many of them, including the brilliant Henry Steinway who conceived the models A, B, C and D, died young through overwork.

The question is, what kind of Weber does one have when one encounters an old one? For there was Weber & Co., the American piano maker later affiliated with Aeolian and the Weber Piano Co. of Kingston, Ontario, the quality of whose pianos I have no idea of. We clearly have one of the former, but if anyone else comes across a Weber, make sure which company it was that made it.

The other name affiliated with Aeolian that is sort of a stand out is George Steck, originally built in Germany and imported into America. (That's when German labor was cheap, when they may have been yesterday's Asia in the piano making business.)

The second big American piano combine was the American Piano company, put together (a forerunner in business structures to what General Motors was to be for automobiles) in 1908. The companies that went into it were Chickering, Knabe, Hains Bros., Marshall & Wendell, Foster, Armstrong, Brewster, and J. B. Cook.

In the beginning and for some time after, right into the 1920's, Chickerings were still made in their old factory in Boston, Knabes in theirs in Baltimore and the rest in Rochester, New York. The combine was able to streamline financial and some manufacturing and marketing matters while allowing each factory or in some cases, divisions or teams to build their own unique line of pianos.

New York City and Chicago each produced a few dozen more recognizable names which eiether went into other combines or ceased to exist after 1929. But as the 1920's roared along, American picked up more names; A. B. Chase (in Ohio, who built the concert grands for Chickering and some for Knabe), this can be an outstanding brand, J & C Fischer (Buffalo, NY), another excellent brand, Straud (originally an English import, later made in Rochester, my great grandfather owned one which was passed down through the family and ended up in a church, an excellent little grand), Emerson, Gabler, Stratford, Holmes (none very significant IMHO) and Vose (many with their almost Danish modern looking designs).

When the Great Depression came, it was the close of an age that marked the end of some things and the beginning of others. But for our purposes, the chief casualties were in the piano business, a dwindling demand (through the 1920's) soon led to the closing of old factories and the merging of skills into factories in places like Memphis and North Carolina where a new idea of what a saleable piano could be was created, where piano as furniture demanded that they get even smaller and cheaper than they had ever been before. Fewer great Chickerings and Kanbes were made and they were now made in East Rochester, New York. A few show up here and there but they are by all accounts nothing like their predecessors.

Mason & Hamlin was making pianos, first in New York and later in Boston, from 1883 until they were absorbed by the Aeolian-American combine in 1931, but somehow managed to stay independent when it came to quality and workmanship. A new BB or A has much to it that might place it in the 1920's. Some good things never change.

Jolly's post contains the two possible roads for one to take.

What size is it? Is it a grand? If it isn't, forget it. I would personally not buy any piano of that age under 5'4" no matter what its condition and if its a really small "quarter" or "baby" grand then $2,000 is way too much money.

Before you buy ANY used piano, it must be evaluated to determine its structural integrity, and chiefly the plate must be without cracks and the rim must be in fairly good shape. The keyboard should be salvageable too. Just about all the rest can be replaced and probably should be in a piano that old.

The question is how to go about doing it. For $2,000 at least all the keys should be playable. You might not like what you hear, but at least they all sound. If not, and you still like the piano, if it's a nice parlor grand (5'6"-6'), then ask him/her to come down on it a bit.

Another consideration is the piano's close. There were two contending during that time, the full fallboard design, used on all Steinways, the New York close and the double and lock Boston close, which has a much more old fashioned look to it. If you are speculating, little details like this can matter. The Boston close is far less desirable than the New York close.

If all these considerations are met then do you
1) chip away at it or
2) have it totally rebuilt to your specifications?

Only your financial situation, patience and ready need for a piano will determine which road you take. Should you need advice or direction on either plan of action, feel free to contact us here or you may contact me by e-mail off line.

Look before you leap.

#908654 - 04/16/03 11:58 PM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 3,291
Steve Miller Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Steve Miller  Offline
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Joined: May 2001
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Yorba Linda, CA
Marvelous post, David.

I have filed it away along with the "Golden Age" piano post.

When I get enough of them, I will get in touch with you about publishing a book!

Thanks!


Defender of the Landfill Piano
#908655 - 04/17/03 01:25 AM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 3,749
Keith D Kerman Offline
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Keith D Kerman  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 3,749
Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
David Burton,

I enjoyed your post. Thanks. We spend most of our rebuilding efforts on Mason & Hamlins and Steinways, but there is nothing more satisfying than rebuilding a great forgotten or lesser known American grand, and just blowing people away with the result.
Jolly, it is too bad you aren't enough of a gambler to buy a piano, and have it rebuilt. I think you would enjoy the process enormously. I think you could use your shopping skills to find a great rebuilder ( on the East Coast, 15k is cheap for a top notch rebuild) and hedge your bet.


Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
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#908656 - 04/17/03 02:54 PM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
Joined: Jun 2001
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Jolly Offline
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Jolly  Offline
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Louisiana
Keith,

There are many times I wish I was more of a gambler, myself.

When I first came on the board, I owned not a Nordiska, but a 6' Hardman, that had a truly storied past behind it.

But alas, it needed a total rebuild, and my tech said either do the right thing, or sell it for for furniture.

I hear it looks nice in its' new home, with the shawl draped over it, and a nice flower arrangement on top.

I just couldn't pull the trigger on a 15K shot in the dark. I sure did think about it, though!

p.s. - very nice post, Mr. Burton.


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#908657 - 04/17/03 03:18 PM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 664
iyi bir piano Offline
500 Post Club Member
iyi bir piano  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 664
USA
Quote
Wondering if anyone would offer an opinion on the restorable value in a Weber grand from the early 1900's , (serial #58128, Weber, NY)? It's being offered to me for $2000 - told it's a beautiful piece, mahogony, but perhaps not the greatest instrument? Want to know if it's even worth looking at and considering for that amount???
If you are considering to spend $2000 plus, then spend more money refurbishing this one. Buy yourself a used upright, you'll end-up with a better MUSICAL INSTRUMENT.
By the way tell them to pay you a few hundreds if they want you to pick up the birdcage. laugh

#908658 - 04/17/03 03:26 PM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 664
iyi bir piano Offline
500 Post Club Member
iyi bir piano  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 664
USA
Posted by Jolly.
Quote
There are many times I wish I was more of a gambler, myself. [b]When I first came on the board, I owned not a Nordiska, but a 6' Hardman, that had a truly storied past behind it. [/b]
Do you mean…less of a cheap-ass? laugh

#908659 - 04/17/03 04:12 PM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
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Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Jolly  Offline
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Louisiana
Oh, I don't know Iyi. I do have other priorities in life.

I intend to retire at 52, with a retirement income of more than you make.

My children will graduate college debt free.

I will owe no man when I retire.

Shucks, I may even buy the store you work at, just so I can fire your sorry tail!

Who says you can't have fun after you retire! laugh


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#908660 - 04/17/03 04:18 PM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
Joined: Nov 2002
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iyi bir piano Offline
500 Post Club Member
iyi bir piano  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 664
USA
laugh laugh laugh

#908661 - 05/12/03 05:41 PM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
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RealPlayer Offline
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RealPlayer  Offline
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NYC
I know it's late to be posting on this topic, but I didn't manage to join up until recently.

kbike, did you ever make a decision on buying the Weber? What size was it?

I thought I'd chime in because I own an old Weber from 1917. It now needs a total rebuild, I think, and I have a different instrument for my main piano. But when I bought the Weber about 15 years ago, I was really impressed with it. It had been restrung at some time during its life and it had a great sound and was no slouch in the action department. After my battering it all those years, though, a new action would be a good idea.

Mine is Serial #67742, and 7 feet long. When decision time came, I went with the idea of buying a rebuilt M&H instead of having the Weber rebuilt, but I do wonder how it would turn out if it *were* rebuilt. Has anyone here ever played a rebuilt Weber? Or actually rebuilt one?

I have a hunch it would be a real performer.

Joe

#908662 - 05/12/03 06:05 PM Re: Opinion on an old Weber grand  
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piqué Offline
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i know nothing about the topic of this thread, but i just wanted to say: david burton, you've been gone too long and it great to have you back making your marvelous (just the right word, steve) posts.


piqué

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